By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Nineteen-year-old Marainna Torres will learn today if she continues imprisonment for the death of her 2-year-old adoptive sister.
The child, Ena Barreto, died May 19, 2008, in a Memphis hospital from injuries to her head and torso.
On July 2, 2008, Torres admitted she lost control emotionally, struck the child and threw her into a baby bed at their rural Union County home.
She faces up to 20 years in prison and has been held in the Union County Jail for nearly two years, awaiting the trial of her stepfather and mother, Ramon and Janet Lee Killough Barreto.
She was expected to be a key prosecution witness.
But the Barretos disappeared nearly a year ago as they faced 10 criminal counts – six on child endangerment, three on felony child abuse and one of manslaughter by culpable negligence.
A Union County grand jury accused them of forcing Torres to care for their seven adopted children, most under the age of 3, without proper training or support, which contributed to her fatally injuring one of them.
Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth will preside over today’s sentencing at the Lafayette County Courthouse. He’s likely to hear testimony from, among others, law enforcement officials about Torres’ jail experience and a description of the teen’s life leading up to the child’s death.
Pontotoc attorney Tim Tucker represents Torres, who spent her 18th and 19th birthdays in jail.
Her father, Martin Mata Torres Sr., is believed to live in Pontotoc County and could attend the hearing, too. He and Torres’ mother married in May 1990 and divorced in June 2000.
District Attorney Ben Creekmore represents the state and likely will make a sentence recommendation to Howorth.
Torres was 17 when Ena died and 2008 reports say she was practically a servant in her County Road 87 home, forced to take care of the many young children the Barretos adopted from Guatemala.
Authorities continue to search for the Barretos, who were scheduled for trial in March 2009.
Out on $450,000 bond each, they apparently left the county before Janet Barreto was to be arraigned on another charge – witness tampering – after she allegedly called Torres in jail and demanded she recant or lie about how the child died.
They are believed to be in Mexico, where Ramon has family.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.